Welcome to Charleston, the state's tournament capital

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Sometimes in our business we get so caught up in covering games, issues and events that we forget.In regard to today's start of the 100th boys basketball tournament, for instance, you'll notice our extensive workup of the games and coverage of the anniversary celebration.Yet sometimes we forget we're also hosts.So, if you're in town for the games, allow me to welcome you - as well as make a suggestion.Do yourself a favor. When you're not attending the games, get out of your hotel room and check out the Capital City.I say that for two reasons. First, there's much to see, from the Victorian-era buildings and cobblestone downtown to Haddad River Front on "the boulevard" that lines the Kanawha River.Downtown you'll find some neat shops and places to eat. Take a walking tour. Sample the nightlife. Visit your capitol and the impressive Clay Center. Jump in your car and check out the Kanawha State Forest or roll the dice at the Mardi Gras casino.I write this hoping you'll enjoy your visit. I write this hoping you do more than go to the games and then hole up. See, Charleston is a great city. The Kanawha Valley is filled with terrific folks, and we'd like for you to visit again.Understand you're not being taken for granted. That happened once here with the state football championships, which are now held in Wheeling.Now, Charleston might also lose the state's college basketball tournament. All involved within the West Virginia Conference always seemed to look forward to and enjoy the heck out of visiting the Capital City. Yarns of trips here - many involving the old Daniel Boone Hotel - are legendary.But there's a chance the new Mountain East Conference will pick up its ball and go elsewhere. That new league's commissioner, Reid Amos, lives in Wheeling. Word is West Liberty president Robin Capehart was the driving force in the move from the WVC to the MEC. It stands to reason they might push for the tournament to be relocated to Wheeling's WesBanco Arena. (Especially after the recent fracas involving West Liberty followers at Charleston's Embassy Suites.)Now, would such a move serve the fans well? No, of course not. The way the Civic Center sits, surrounded by hotels, the Town Center mall, places to dine and all of the aforementioned make Charleston the perfect place for these tournaments.
But sure enough, in Sunday's Wheeling News-Register, the headline shouted to "Bring MEC Tourney to Wheeling." The WVC body isn't even cold yet.The point, though, is we'd like to make sure you feel welcome. Now. Here. This week.
Attending hoops tournaments in Charleston is always special. Great memories are always formed. The games are always intense.To the kids playing in the tournament, take a beat when you walk onto the Civic Center floor. Look around. Soak it in. Feel the greatness that's been on that floor in years past. Add to it. But most of all, have fun.To all, we hope you experience our southern hospitality. The Gazette will make sure you're served. We'll cover every single game. We'll have photos and notebooks and columns from the event. We'll post results online right after the games. You can call our scoreline at 304-348-1713 for updates. Heck, we'll even dish out tweets on Twitter.Got me? We'll do our part. Now do your part. If you're an adult in town for the tournament, cheer on those kids. If you're a kid, cherish the experience. And after the games, get out of the hotel room and check out the city.You'll see why we think Charleston is someplace special.Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, mitchvingle@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.
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